I shaved for the first time today. Oh, I have dragged some thin pieces of metal across my face to drag the stubble out of its hiding places, but that’s not shaving any more than wiping a depilatory over my lip would be. To learn to shave, I am going to have to pay in blood.
|He makes it look easy|
We have gotten more and more separated from the act of shaving with advance in technology. It’s no different than the separation we feel from our food production and the weather. While we are more comfortable, we’re also less connected.
The idea of shaving with a real blade was first introduced to my mind by the book Lord Foul’s Bane. In it, the main character uses the ritual of shaving as a way to remain in the moment, because to do otherwise can lead to slitting one’s own throat.
That’s what razor shaving brings to the table: focus, and patience. This is not quickly getting rid of the scruff before gulping back a cup of coffee and dashing for the train. To shave with a blade demands making the time to do it properly, and free of distractions. You can’t hurry it, and you can’t take shortcuts. Every time you try is going to give you immediate feedback.
For my first attempt, I decided to buy a shavette, which has replaceable blades instead of one that I sharpen. My research into blade selection made me realize that I could spend a couple hundred dollars on a quality piece of honed steel, without knowing if I would use it more than once. The shavette is a compromise; I will not get as close a shave, but I will be able to master the technique. I can, and have, get cut just as easily.
I’ve got a hundred blades. Even if each blade is only good for one shave (which is possible), that should get me through the hundred-shave learning curve. That’s what it will take to master this shaving system, and that’s another bit of magic that it offers me: discipline. I can always use a bit more discipline. By the time I discard that last blade, I’ll definitely know if investing in a real straight razor is worth it.
Looking at my first shave, I have a long way to go in the next 99. I can’t figure out how to hold the blade so it doesn’t block my view of the mirror half the time. There’s a section of my chin that I can’t figure out the correct angle for, so I barely touched it. And while having a mustache helps me avoid the tricky area under the nose, I still have to learn how to shape it with unfettered steel. I ended up going over some of the hard parts with my disposable.
So in a year or so (I am far from a daily shaver), I may well be a pro with my blade, or I may have thrown in the towel. Along the way I should learn to slow down, pay attention, and keep the styptic pencil handy.